DOJ Launching Investigation Into Louisville Police Over Breonna Taylor’s Death

“Congress has authorized the department to conduct pattern or practice investigations,” Garland said

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Merrick Garland
Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that the Justice Department would be launching an investigation into Louisville police over the death of Breonna Taylor, who was shot after her boyfriend initiated a shootout with police officers investigating his connection with drug trafficking during a raid last year.

“As I explained last week, Congress has authorized the department to conduct pattern or practice investigations,” Garland said, adding that these investigations “protect individual civil rights.”

“They also assist police departments. also, assist police departments in developing measures to increase transparency and accountability,” Garland continued.

“Those qualities are necessary to building trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve. And community trust is essential to making policing more effective and less dangerous for officers on the street.”

“Today, the Justice Department is opening a civil investigation into the Louisville Jefferson County metro government and the Louisville Metro Police Department to determine whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of violations of the constitution or federal law,” Garland said. “Today’s announcement is based on an extensive review of publicly available information about LMPD conducted by the Justice Department civil rights division.”

Garland said that this investigation is meant to decide “whether LMPD engages in a pattern or practice of using unreasonable force including with respect to people involved in peaceful expressive activities. It will determine whether LMPD engages in unconstitutional stops, searches, and seizures, as well as whether the department unlawfully executes search warrants on private homes.”

The basis for the investigation is the death of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by a stray bullet after her boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, initiated a shootout with the police while she was standing beside him, shooting one of the officers in the thigh, when they entered her apartment with a search warrant in connection with a drug case involving Walker. Corroborated by witness testimony, the officers announced their presence and knocked repeatedly before making the decision to enter the apartment.

“Evidence shows that officers both knocked and announced their presence at the apartment. The officer’s statements about their announcement are corroborated by an independent witness who was near in proximity to apartment four. In other words, the warrant was not served as a no-knock warrant,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron explained.

“When officers were unable to get anyone to answer or open the door to apartment four, the decision was made to breach the door,” he continued. “After breaching the door, Sergeant Mattingly was the first and only officer to enter the residence. Sergeant Mattingly identified two individuals standing beside one another at the end of the hall, a male and a female. In his statement, he says that the male was holding a gun, arms extended in a shooting stance. Sergeant Mattingly saw the man’s gunfire, heard a boom, and immediately knew he was shot as a result of feeling heat in his upper thigh.”